China will open wider to foreign media companies, Chinese diplomat says

A Chinese diplomat said Thursday that China's new controls on foreign news agencies were not intended to limit the flow of information and that the country would open wider to the media.

The regulations, announced this month, give the government's Xinhua News Agency control over the distribution of news, information and other services from foreign agencies within China.

The rules have been widely viewed as the government's attempt to protect Chinese media from competition from foreign news agencies, which are eager to expand in China's fast-growing market. The agencies include The Associated Press and Reuters Group PLC.

Xie Xiaoyan, the Hong Kong-based deputy commissioner of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, told reporters that the rules were purely inspired by commercial and legal interests, not ideology or politics.

"The rules are not aimed at restricting the normal flow of information," Xie said after giving a lunch speech at the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents' Club. "They just want to regulate, have an orderly development of a market that is growing fast."

He added, "China will only be opened wider, be it in the area of information, mass media or in the area of the economy."

Xie did not elaborate on how or when China would open up further, reports AP.

"There must be some rules and regulations for the mass media," he said.